Daily Kos is a reality-based community. I like that. I also like another reality-based community, the James Randi Educational Foundation aka JREF. I haven't had time to post there in quite a while, but late last night I got intrigued by a thread discussing the Donald Sterling situation and gave in to temptation.
The topic I addressed was the question of whether Donald Sterling is (as The Conservative Treehouse and their echo chamber is claiming) a Democratic fundraiser, bundler, and prominent donor.
I thought much of what I wrote would already be available over here. But checking in now, I don't see it -- so I'm going to share some of the research I posted over there.
Did the Conservative Treehouse actually get it right?
All right, you probably already know the answer to that one. But please join me below the fold anyway.
The politics section at JREF leans left (it is, after all, a site where people are attempting to think things through rationally and skeptically) but there are a number of right-wing posters who are intelligent, reasonable, and willing to engage in substantial discussions. The poster whose comments caught my eye is not one of them. This poster seemed to be simply echoing things picked up at right-wing blogs in short evidence-free comments designed more to irritate than to educate.
Here were the examples which caught my eye:
[post # 36] ... Sterling is a white racist Democrat fundraiser and supporte[r] ...
[post # 38] ... Sterling is a rich Democratic fundraise[r], donor and supporter scheduled to get a life time achievement award from the NAACP ...
[post # 40]... Sterling is a rich white Dem racist.ABC10 was asked by others what the evidence was for these claims. To which ABC replied:
Google is our friend, but [the evidence for these claims] can be found right now at the Conservative Tree House.ABC10 neglected to provide a link to the article at Conservative Treehouse, but I was able to locate it fairly easily. What follows is the post I wrote in reply.
All right. That appears to be this article. Here's the entirety of the evidence Conservative Treehouse provides for your claims:
Donald Sterling is a Democrat Fundraiser , and a democrat supporter/donor.[Just to be clear, that's the entirety of the Conservative Treehouse case: that single sentence with its two embedded links.]
Let's look at the first claim, that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser. To support this claim Conservative Treehouse cites (but is careful not to quote from) this 2011 article posted at a basketball site listing the political contributions of several dozen prominent basketball figures. Here's the entirety of the article's listing for Sterling:
Donald Sterling, Los Angeles ClippersSo their citation (which shows that Sterling was a contributor to Democrats 20-some years ago) does not match their claim (that Sterling is now or was then a Democratic fundraiser).
Records show Sterling has donated just $6,000, with no activity since the early 1990s. He supported Gray Davis early in his career, as well as Bill Bradley.
The citation for the claim that Sterling is a "democrat contributor" is a little more indirect. Conservative Treehouse cites The Daily Caller, who in turn cite something called LittleSis, which in turn says they got their information from OpenSecrets.org.
According to LittleSis, Sterling made 3 political contributions. These occurred in the years 1990 and 1992. LittleSis didn't bother to specify which contributions were made in which years so The Daily Caller and the Conservative Treehouse were unable to provide that information in their write-ups. But they report the contributions were: $2000 to Bill Bradley, $1000 to Patrick Leahy, and $1,000 to Gray Davis.
I can do better than that. (And did.) Instead of relying on Conservative Treehouse, The Daily Caller, or LittleSis, I went directly to OpenSecrets and plugged in a search for Donald Sterling.
The OpenSecrets records show a $1,000 donation to Bill Bradley on Nov. 30, 1989, another $1,000 donation to Bill Bradley on November 30, 1989 [Hmmm!], a $1,000 donation to Patrick Leahy on September 9, 1991, and a $1,000 donation to Gray Davis on September 27, 1991.
That adds up to $4,000 (assuming the two identical Bradley donations are actually separate donations and not the same donation turning up twice).
Sterling evidently gave nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the Clinton years. He gave nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the W. years. And he has given nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the Obama years. Not exactly a major Democratic contributor or Democratic fundraiser, then.
So to recap:
1. The claim that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser appears entirely unsupported.
2. The claim that Sterling is a Democratic contributor appears also to be false; a correct claim would be that 22 years ago Sterling was a Democratic contributor. (Since then he has been even-handed in donating an identical amount of $0 to both parties).
3. As for the claim that Sterling is a Democrat, the Conservative Treehouse article you cited does not make that claim. (The Daily Caller article which the Conservative Treehouse cites also fails to make that claim.)
It's quite possible Sterling was registered as a Democrat when he made his last recorded contribution to a Democrat in 1991. It's quite possible he is one now. But your cited source provides no evidence to support that claim. Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that Sterling is a Democrat, or is this simply something you assumed?
I've had several good responses over there (and have added a few more posts of my own), which I invite people to go over there and read if this topic interests you.
The person I was responding to, ABC10, has added some additional comments to the thread (mainly to take snide potshots at Keith Olbermann) but has not yet responded to my posts.